Learn how to sew cargo pockets! Cargo reminds us of carrying things on ships and camels and other exotic travels. The cargo pocket has exactly that kind of function - it is a pocket designed to carry extra bits and pieces especially useful for the avid collector, outdoor hiker, and explorer.
Cargo pockets are patch pockets that can expand and are often stitched on the pants leg at the outside seams. Cargo pockets usually have a flap and may have inverted or boxed pleats in the front. The folds or pleats make the pocket space larger and more able to carry extra things inside.
How to Sew Cargo Pockets
The instructions for this basic cargo pocket include the basic pattern that you can adapt to your taste.
Step 1 - Pattern Piece
Cut out a pocket pattern the size of your choice. The size could depend on the wearer and the adventure. You can use your standard patch pocket as a guide or follow the suggested width of 10” and a height of 8’’.
At the bottom corners of the pattern cut in a step of 1” at the side and at the bottom. It looks like cutting a square out of the corner of the fabric. This is your pattern piece. Check the size against your garment and add on seam allowances if necessary. If you are using a commercial pattern all these sizes should be there.
You will also need to add a pleat for the center. Here I have shown measurements for a box pleat.
Step 2 - Cutting
Use your pattern piece to cut out a pocket piece of the fabric. It will have room for the top turnover. In some situations, depending on the fabric, you may want to add some bonding or fusible tape to strengthen the top as you will neaten the edge and turn it down. The cut-out corners clipped and sewn into a dart become the box part of the pattern.
Step 3 - Press Pleats
Press all the fold lines to form a box pleat. Best the top and bottom of the pocket to hold the pleat in place. You may also topstitch the edge of the pleats to hold them closed.
Step 4 - Box the Corners
Stitch the corners across the opening to form a dart. Sew the dart right sides together and this gives your cargo pocket the dimension needed to give the extra fullness to the pocket. It creates the box effect.
Step 5 - Neaten
Neaten the top edge of the pocket. You can do this with a double fold hem or single fold hem. Thicker fabrics like canvas, drill or duck, are best finished with a serger or zig-zag stitch then folded once.
Press the seam allowance under on the sides and bottom.
Step 6 - Pin and Sew
Now you are ready to pin the pocket onto the garment. The most difficult part here is to get the pocket extension to sit exactly under the pocket and not slip out or stretch out of shape. Mark the garment pocket position with tailor's chalk to show exactly where the edges should be and pin or baste the pocket onto the fabric. Sew around the pocket on the edge of the seam allowance. The seam allowance is turned under the pocket.
TIP: Stitch each line separately to make the edges neat and crisp - do not go around the edges by turning the corners.
Step 7 - Add the Flap
Add a flap to the top of the pocket. The flap is made separately and closed with a snap or velcro or a button.
Cargo Pocket Variations
This is a very basic cargo pocket. There are other options and designs to try but the main aim is to create a pocket with added space through creating an extension to the sides of the pocket.
Here are some other alternatives to creating a cargo pocket.
- Extend the pocket size with an inverted pleat in the centre of the pocket.
- Use a gusset to create the extra depth to the cargo pocket by adding on a piece of fabric in a strip around the three sides of the pocket to be stitched to the garment.
- Make extra long cargo pockets to fit down the sides of cargo pants allowing larger outdoor gadgets to be carried on hikes and other outings.
- An accordion pocket and a bellows pocket are similar to a cargo pocket because they have the added gusset or boxed effect created to give more space to the inside of the pocket.
Cargo Pockets - In Conclusion
Cargo pockets are not just for decorating the latest bush wear. They are useful on bags and camping equipment. The cargo pocket gives that extra space on the outside of a backpack or carry bag. Jackets with cargo pockets are especially useful for the outdoor enthusiast and attaching them to cargo pants and a cargo jacket will make the next Indiana Jones in your family feel ready for the next high flying adventure into some wild and wonderful place.